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Creators of “The Decision” stunned by backlash (and other details of event)

Jun 30, 2011, 1:15 PM EDT

Image (1) lebron_decision-thumb-250x191-15508.jpg for post 6206

On the eve of a lockout that — if it does end up costing games — will kill the momentum around the league, let’s look back at the thing that helped create all that momentum and the increased ratings: LeBron James’ Decision.

The television show sparked interest from casual fans that carried over to increased television ratings this season, increased attendance and a real uptick in popularity of the NBA. Sure, much of it may have been people tuning in to root against the Heat (and thereby adopting Dirk Nowitzki as their own), but there is no doubt that is part of what fueled the increased interest in the league.

The backlash of The Decision caught the creators of the show by surprise, they told Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated in a fascinating look at how the production of the show came together.

(Mark Dowley, former partner at the William Morris Endeavor agency who helped set up the show in Greenwich): We got a lot of grief for it. A good deed never goes unpunished, you know? LeBron is an exceptionally bright young man. No one is taking advantage of LeBron James. And Maverick Carter is a very bright guy. I’ve done deals with them since and we’ll do deals with them in the future. Everybody can hold their heads up high. The only people who know best about how they felt [about the criticism] are Maverick and LeBron. There is no way they enjoyed a lot of the aftermath. I do know morally and from a socially conscience standpoint, they know they did something good (for the Boys & Girls Club).

The guy who really got wronged was Jim Gray. The whole original idea was Jim’s and Ari’s and Maverick’s. I thought Jim did a hell of a job. He’s quite a gentleman. This was sports, after all, not U.N. wartime reporting. People just got a little nuts over it.

Gray only got wronged if you thought the idea of announcing where a basketball player would play next season in an hour television broadcast was a good idea in the first place. It wasn’t. Instant reaction in the public at the time — before anyone knew where LeBron was going to play, just the reaction to idea of a special to make the announcement — was an obvious precursor to the backlash that followed. The fact nobody else helping put this together anticipated this kind of reaction speaks to how in touch they really are with the feelings of fans.

Go read the entire SI report, there are fascinating details on the event itself. How LeBron did not sign autographs for the kids at the club (he was on too tight a schedule, people say) and how the kids really flocked more to Kanye West anyway. How Greenwich was chosen because it was seen as neutral ground. How it was apparently the Greenwich police that leaked the location that those involved had tried to keep secret.

In the end, those involved are proud of the money raised for the Boys & Girls club. And that is no doubt a noble cause and the money has and will be put to good use.

And the NBA has seen a bump in business in part because of it. Does all of that end up making it a good idea to do The Decision? I personally still can’t convince myself it was.

  1. drmonkeyarmy - Jun 30, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    Presumably all the parties involved in “The Decision” are wealthy people. If the Boys and Girls Clubs are of such a concern to these people, why didn’t they just donate money themselves. Why did they need to engage in such a farce of a program in order to be charitable? These people are clowns and out of touch with reality.

    • nfl25 - Jun 30, 2011 at 3:04 PM

      did they really have to do a show like that to donate? im glad u donated but why a corny show about where u are choosing to play?

      that corny show shows what they think of nba fans. they think most are little kids that are in love wit the players

      • purdueman - Jun 30, 2011 at 3:30 PM

        It’s called “unabashed narcissism”; anybody (Le Bum), who would have “The Chosen One” permanently tattoo’d on his body is a complete knucklehead and like an ADD child, has to be the center of attention.

  2. sguy2130 - Jun 30, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    “And Maverick Carter is a very bright guy”…..I stopped reading after that.

    • purdueman - Jun 30, 2011 at 1:41 PM

      I stopped reading right after “Le Bum is an exceptionally bright young man”. If Le Bum is so damned smart, why has he allowed his agents and posse to manipulate him into becoming one of pro sports most despised star players?

      • fouldwimmerlaik - Jun 30, 2011 at 4:26 PM

        Hey, come on now, it takes a lot of talent and dedication to turn one of the NBA’s most popular players into one of the NBA’s most despised players in only one hour. You have to give them some credit.

  3. themanchine - Jun 30, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Greenwich was NOT neutral….the Knicks training facility is minutes away.

    • themanchine - Jun 30, 2011 at 1:51 PM

      A perfect example of how bright these fools are NOT

    • Glenn - Jun 30, 2011 at 2:57 PM

      And if there is a place in America where there is the least need for charity, Greenwich, Connecticut would be on the short list. I guess the Hamptons, Palm Springs, or Belaire were tied up that evening.

  4. firerosenthalthebastard - Jun 30, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Lebron left the event because he was on a tight schedule… at which point he went back to the house and had some beers with Kanye West then jumped on his private jet to Miami.

    • purdueman - Jun 30, 2011 at 3:32 PM

      Le Bum was on a tight schedule all right; he had to make it down to Miami in time for he, D-Wade and Bosh’s party to celebrate winning the next seven NBA championships in a row! What a bunch of losers!

  5. randysavage4ever - Jun 30, 2011 at 2:54 PM


    r u serious….

    you didnt think that a local icon from the state of Ohio going on national television and joining a Hollywood type of team would create backlash?

    had it been Superstar “X” and they did it to their former team it dont matter… but it was Lebron James leaving the state of Ohio and the team that drafted him and did the EMINEM DRAKE FOREVER SONG TO, yea that guy, leaving to sell out and join superstars on South Beach…


    FORGET OLD SCHOOL VALUES LIKE LOYALTY…sell out for the cash & spotlight…

    all of the lights like kanye west is what Mr.James choose, now reep in it…

    as for Maverick Carter….ha. I’ll take the Gary Williams approach and be classy with it… these “mentors” & “friends” of NBA players…. whats that u say Gary? “I dont wanna get in the muddy waters of the AAU…”

    yeah we all know whats going on…$$$

  6. goforthanddie - Jun 30, 2011 at 3:51 PM

    “LeBron is an exceptionally bright young man. No one is taking advantage of LeBron James. And Maverick Carter is a very bright guy.”

    Lies, lies, and truth (Maverick’s riding leb like a racehorse, that sounds very smart to me).

    Another thing…Has any pro team athlete ever held a presser (with nationwide TV coverage) to announce his new home? How could they NOT think that was incredibly arrogant?

  7. bigtrav425 - Jun 30, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    Just that lil piece of the article made me laugh and more mad at the same time.That guy along with LRMR and Lebum need punched in the face with a reality check.Its all a bunch of freaking lies anyways.just trying to save face!

  8. granadafan - Jun 30, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    It was disgusting to use kids in the background as if the public would be precluded from making any criticism just because there were kids used as props. The obvious usage of the kids and boys and girls club along with broadcasting The Decision for an hour was a terrible terrible Decision. LeBum was seen as great likeable star, but the whole free agent process where he made teams come to HIM and the Look-at-me show just showed what an egotistical player he really is. His subsequent cries of playing the race card just the nail in the coffin for most fans. No one faults his desire to win a championship somewhere other than Cleveland (awful place), but the way he went about it was just wrong.

  9. mogogo1 - Jun 30, 2011 at 6:23 PM

    The moment I heard about The Decision I assumed his returning to Cleveland was a done deal because for him to dump them like that would be an absolute PR disaster for him. Anyone with even one foot in reality knew that was true. You need no better example of LeBron and his people being out of touch than their apparent surprise over the backlash. There must have been people involved who absolutely knew it was going to go up in flames and they were either ignored or decided to keep their mouths shut because their was money to be made and telling King James “no” wasn’t an option.

  10. brianpmoore - Jun 30, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    That’s an astoundingly weak defense of narcissism. The folks interviewed here act as if self-interest wasn’t even a consideration when it was the _only_ consideration no matter how it was packaged.

    To take the point of an earlier comment further, this wasn’t the only way to get The Boys and Girls Club some money.

    “No good deed” may go unpunished, but a transparent act of self-promotion disguised as charity should never go unpunished.

  11. 1historian - Jul 1, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    I suspect that a lot of the people who are STILL pissed about that silly show are ones that somehow were suckered into watching it and STILL can’t believe how stupid they felt, not to mention used.

    Using the Boys and Girls Club to hide behind makes it that much worse.

    FYI – I give every month to a charity in Alabama, I give every week to my church. I am not tooting my own horn, rather I am defending my statement about using the Boys and Girls Club.

  12. 1historian - Jul 1, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    One more thing – I did not watch that show, but I can imagine those who did watch it suffering through what I am told was 55 minutes of b.s. before ‘The Decision’ was announced.

    And I can understand (?) their still being pissed about it.

  13. freshfoams - Jul 5, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    Ok…My question is what should he have done (if he did not want to stay in Cleveland)? Should he have just issued a press release? Remember, this kid has been in front of camera since he was 12. This is all he knows, and I don’t expect him to relate to the average fan because he’s not the average fan. When MJ retired (1st time) he held a press conference. I’m not sure how long it lasted and I’m not comparing NBA legacies here either. Just saying, that mega stars of the NBA (or any league for that matter) generally announce their “decisions” (no pun intended) in front the camera.

    It would have been a far greater statement had only a few thousand people tuned in to watch, but well over a few million (rough estimate) tuned in to watch. Also, spare me the loyalty crap! This is business and it’s his life. If wants to live/play in Miami over Cleveland so what?! These teams cut, trade and release players all the time because it what the team wants to do.

    I had no issues with the show (probably because I only watched the last 15 minutes) and even still you had to know what it was going to be prior to tuning in. I think people just love having someone to throw stones at, so let the stone throwing begin!…HAHAHAHA

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